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Rap, history converge in B-CU student's hip-hop musical

Gino Cyrus’ part hip-hop musical, part social commentary, “Mary’s Children,” which was performed last week during B-CU’s 113th anniversary. The play follows B-CU’s founder Mary McLeod Bethune, who died in 1955, when America was still segregated, as she's reincarnated and wanders throughout her former school in modern times. To get in Bethune’s head, Cyrus said he studied B-CU’s history and visited Bethune's campus home. He also spoke with some of her descendants. After the initial shock of learning she now occupies a 19-year-old’s body — and has been dead for more than 60 years — Bethune comes to learn of how the campus she created and the world she worked to better has changed. In Bethune’s day, blacks weren’t allowed at the beach. In response to this, she pressed investors to create a beachside housing development where blacks could go without fear of harm or harassment, now known as Bethune Beach. Asking about her namesake beach, Bethune is saddened when her roommate tells her, “It’s not known for nothing but million dollar homes, and you won’t find a lot of black people there.” The newly resurrected Bethune also struggles with the social and cultural changes that have occurred over the years. Rather than fill their minds with books as Bethune did in her time, students now fill their heads with rap music. And that's why Cyrus incorporated rap music throughout the show. Using the medium of hip-hop was a way to help connect students to the school’s history. “They (B-CU students) know the lyrics to all the songs, but they know nothing about her, the university’s founder and the school they walk every day,” Cyrus said.

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